Following Tragedy, Round Rock Barber Finds Meaning

by Christine Bolanos, courtesy of Statesman

Harold McDonald's life turned upside down when his daughter died in a hit-and-run car accident. He later pleaded on TV for the person to face authorities. The next day, a young man whose mother was terminally ill turned himself in.

At that moment, McDonald said he realized what his daughter's killer needed was forgiveness and a second lease on life.

"I told him, 'Yes, I forgive you,'" McDonald said. "I told him, 'I just ask that you use your life for a purpose and don't destroy it.' "

McDonald followed his own guidance, turning his job as a barber into a mission of reaching as many men as possible in a positive way.

Having spent most of his life in Omaha, Neb., before moving to North Texas, McDonald moved to Round Rock last year. He recently held a grand opening celebration for his barber shop at Salons by JC, located at 3021 S. Interstate 35 in the Round Rock Crossing District.

McDonald has an array of clients, including football stars and Grammy winners, pastors and rabbis, gang members, politicians and law enforcement. While his clients sit in the barber's chair, McDonald said he listens to each man's story closely, gives them advice as requested and provides them a non-judgmental, private space where they can vent about their problems.

"I really wanted my community to know that I was there for them in that time of need, like they were there for me," he said.

Providing that support to men who may be struggling in their personal or professional lives can change their lives, he said — and ultimately create a better community.

McDonald has provided barbering services to hundreds of homeless and less fortunate men over the years. He offers mentoring services to his clients. But, many times, he just listens.

"I may get a gang member or just somebody (who's) rough around the edges, and they begin telling me things that would shock you," he said. "They ask me, 'What do you think I should do?' "

McDonald said he has helped men transform their lives. His wife, Dalonika McDonald — who is known by radio listeners as Dee Boss Lady — works as his public relations manager. She said it is not uncommon for a man who is thinking about leaving his family out of frustration to change his mind after some time speaking with McDonald.

"He can talk to anyone," she said. "He's inviting. He's a great listener. He always finds something about you to connect with."

McDonald has partnered with organizations like Seasons of Change, a nonprofit offering school supplies and free haircuts to children. In that sense, he said he wants people to rethink barbering as more than grooming services.

"Any time you have anybody on your head, that means you really put your life in their hands because everything starts up there," McDonald said, pointing to his head.

Dalonika said her husband, who many simply know as "Harold the Barber," uses his barber shop as a platform or ministry.

"When guys come in here I want them to be able to relax and unwind with nice, soft music and a beverage," McDonald said. "We are the pillars of the community, of our homes, of our churches, our city council. I want the barber shop to be a place where they can leave their worries behind and really strengthen and revitalize."

McDonald published his memoir, "The Unimaginable Life of an Ordinary Man," to inspire better life choices.

"There's a lot of good and bad choices that I made," he said. "Moreover, it was good choices. I want them to rethink the way they think."

McDonald said like the young man responsible for his daughter's death, he did not have a good male role model in his youth. He hopes the book inspires men with similar backgrounds to realize they control their destinies.

He said his radio show, "Life Support for Men," is a women-free zone where men can get advice from experts on a variety of topics related to their personal and professional lives. The radio show is available through www.lcrmedia.com or by download through the TuneIn application.

"There's not a lot of support for men," McDonald said. "When a man gets divorced, or owes child support, they have to start all over again. They need that support and how can you help them if you cannot identify with them."

McDonald said he moved to Round Rock because his high-profile clients yearn for a private and intimate setting. He said Mayor Alan McGraw is doing great things for the community, and wants to help grow the city for the better.

"There are some really great things in the making I want to bring to Round Rock," he said — though he hesitated to give details just yet.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/following-tragedy-round-rock-barber-finds-meaning/nr3rL/